The Death of Empathy in Cruel, Heartless Britain

10.12.12

Last Wednesday, while George Osborne was delivering his Autumn Statement, taking aim at the most vulnerable members of society once more, with another savage attack on the welfare state, I was in central London, and I returned home after he had made his smug and visibly heartless performance in the House of Commons, when the Evening Standard was already announcing his new attack on the poor and disabled.

The Standard‘s headline — “George Osborne hits welfare for poor and raids pensions of rich” — was not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Chancellor’s statement, but it failed to dent the prejudices of the two women next to me, who were returning home, presumably from their office jobs. As they idly perused the paper, they complained about the amount of money the unemployed receive, followed swiftly by a complaint that they then sit around at home doing nothing. There was no mention of the fact that most of what the unemployed receive from the government goes to their landlords, or that there is still only one job for every five people who are unemployed, let alone the fact that a large proportion of benefits are actually paid to working people who aren’t otherwise paid enough money to survive on. Why let anything that might lead you to regard the unemployed as fellow human beings interfere with some knee-jerk bigotry?

Complaining that they too were suffering, they then spent the rest of their journey home — disturbingly, to Brockley, where I also live — rather undermining their case, by talking about party dresses and which gyms they attended.

None of this involved any agitation or excitement whatsoever. It was, instead, nothing more than a bland reiteration of the kind of common prejudices that are, disturbingly, far too prevalent in British society today.

What George Osborne put into play on Wednesday was analysed by Randeep Ramesh in the Guardian, who explained that the government was breaking with the tradition of  “increasing benefits in line with consumer price inflation” — currently at 2.2% — and would restrict welfare increases to 1% for the next three years for all benefits except those to the disabled — who are, of course, already being horribly targeted by the government — and their carers. The saving will apparently be £1.43bn a year by 2014-15 — “almost enough to cover the loss of revenue” from the Chancellor cancelling his planned fuel duty rises, and £3.7bn a year by 2015-16, but it remains to be seen what will happen when more and more of the most vulnerable people in society simply cannot afford to live on their benefits.

Osborne, ignoring the number of working poor who rely on benefits to keep them afloat, had the nerve to claim that the policy was about “being fair to the person who leaves home every morning to go out to work and sees their neighbour still asleep, living a life on benefits … we have to have a welfare system that is fair to the working people who pay for it.” The women on my train would presumably agree, without analysing the spin and the lies.

As Ramesh proceed to explain, Osborne’s proposals have to be passed by Parliament, because “the law currently states benefits have to be uprated in line with prices, currently pegged to the Consumer Price Index.”

Anti-poverty campaigners leapt on the Chancellor’s announcement, condemning it as “creating a ‘decade of destitution’ that will affect both the working and workless poor.” Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said, “Yet again it is children from impoverished families who are unfairly suffering most under the government’s austerity measures. By effectively breaking the link between benefits and inflation today, the chancellor has ensured a bleaker and bleaker future for Britain’s poorest families.” She added, as the Guardian put it, that “low income families in the UK live on just £12 per person per day and the losses would mean difficult choices.”

“We know these households already have to choose between heating the house and buying school uniforms,” she said. “Any plans to bite further into their budgets risk tipping them into overwhelming poverty.”

The Children’s Society also “calculated that, for jobless families with two children, the changes would mean a loss of £430 a year by 2015,” and “took issue with the chancellor’s attempt to pit ‘workers’ against ‘shirkers,’ pointing out that the rise of in-work poverty and spread of low-wage employment had meant that of the 11m people living in poverty, more than half had jobs.”

Matthew Reed of the Children’s Society said, “Although the chancellor chose to present benefit claimants as sleeping at home while others go out to work, the truth is that the majority of families on benefits are working families … Reducing the rate at which benefits are increased to take account of rising prices will make it harder for already struggling families to make ends meet.”

Osborne’s planned cuts are also targetted at housing benefit, limiting the amount paid to councils to a 1% increase as well, which will add to the misery of the low paid and the unemployed in London and the south east in particular, where rents are out of control, and charities are “already warning that ‘deepening benefit cuts’ will have a ‘dramatic impact on homelessness,’” as the Guardian described it.

Ironically, on the morning of Osborne’s statement, the Metro ran a front-page story entitled “Third World Britain,” revealing how much people are already suffering from the Chancellor’s savage cuts to those earning least in society, which provides a chilling indication of how much worse the situation will become over the next two and a half years if no one can halt the Tories’ juggernaut of injustice.

The Metro article — a shortened version of which is available online — explained that, across the country, people are so desperate that they are “walking up to 20 miles to get emergency food handouts,” adding that they are “turning up at food banks on foot because they cannot afford public transport,” and that “nearly all of them have their own homes and many of them are in work.”

The Metro added that the number of people turning to food banks is “expected to double to more than 220,000 this year,” and charities expected “the problem to worsen with further benefit cuts” in the autumn statement.

Will the Labour Party fight back?

So the question now is whether there will be a revolt in Parliament. On Sunday, the Observer suggested that it would indeed, and that Ed Miliband intended “to put Labour at the head of a national revolt to kill off the chancellor’s latest benefit cuts,”  as church leaders and charities united “in protest against the assault on welfare.” The Observer added that Miliband appeared “ready to order his party to oppose real-term reductions in income for millions of the poorest and most vulnerable.” A senior figure close to the Labour leader said, “Make no mistake, we would come down very hard on people who milk the system but we will not confuse them with the vast majority of people — most of them in work — who are really striving, trying to pay the bills and put food on the table.”

It is certainly time for Labour to commit to an alternative to the Tory-led government’s savage austerity policies, although it is not clear that this revolt — even if it materialises — constitutes an adequate sea change, as senior Labour figures generally seem unable to frame a Keynesian response to the ongoing British economic crisis — one that involves spending to stimulate growth. Instead, they remain bewitched by the suicidal obsession with austerity, which, in the Tories’ hands, is meant to destroy the state, and plunge Britain back into the dark ages.

As the Observer also stated, Miliband’s “move to stand up against what he regards as unjust and unfair treatment of millions of people” coincided with a letter from 59 charities and other organisations stating that “the cuts will plunge many more children into poverty and put at risk the principles of the welfare state,” as the Observer put it. The signatories, who include Oxfam, Barnardo’s, the Children’s Society, the Child Poverty Action Group, Disability Rights UK and Church Action on Poverty, said that “Osborne’s plans to break the link between benefits and prices must be stopped if the welfare ‘safety net’ — a cornerstone of the Beveridge report 70 years ago — is to be safeguarded.”

They added, “While the chancellor paints a picture of so-called ‘strivers’ and ‘skivers’, our organisations see the reality on the ground: families scraping by in low-paid work, or being bounced from insecure jobs to benefits and back again.” They also described the cuts as “punitive, unfair, and must not happen”.

Other high-level critics of George Osborne include Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who criticised the use of “populist rhetoric” regarding the poor. He said, “Talk like this actually does a great disservice to those trapped in low pay who are going out to work every day to try to provide a better life for their families,” and Osborne’s colleague, Vince Cable, the business secretary, who, in an interview in the Observer, not only warned that the economy was at risk of a “triple dip” recession, but also said, “I was critical of some of the language that was used to demonise people who are out of work. It is utterly wrong,” he says. “Most people are out of work through no fault of their own. The worst thing you can do is insult them.”

Those who believe in the almost immeasurable importance of opposing the Tories’ plans need to push Labour to genuinely embrace an alternative view of the world, and not pander to then kind of craven opportunism that has led to politicians playing cynical games with voters and abandoning any attempt to create a vision of an inclusive society. Pointers to this were provided on Sunday by Will Hutton,  who in an article for the Observer entitled, “George Osborne’s savage attack on benefits is an affront to British decency,” asked, “What constitutes a good society? What are our responsibilities and obligations to one another? To what extent is our humanity about looking solely after ourselves or being part of something we call society?” Noting, “It may be unfashionable to defend the conception of a social contract, but our religion and our culture enshrine the notion of mutual responsibility and obligation,” he proceeded to explain:

Life is risky and hazardous for everyone. The bad luck of a broken family, unemployment, poor health, unexpected expenses of old age, mental illness and physical incapacity can hit anyone, however hard working. These risks confront everyone.

A good society recognises these risks and insists they should be shared and insured against in an agreed system of collective insurance. The great thinkers of the Enlightenment proposed that if society was to get beyond theocracy, anarchy or despotism, then it had to be underwritten by such a social contract. To organise society as an individualistic war of one against another was barbaric, while the other models, slavishly following the rules of one religion or one supreme leader, denied freedom.

Cameron and Osborne will publicly say that they still respect such values, but, privately, they are pursuing a different agenda. The terms on which millions have made their plans and life choices have been torn up. The automatic link between inflation and the uprating of benefits is to be scrapped for at least three years. The tax relief available to those building retirement pensions is to be further withdrawn. This comes on top of the capping of benefits, whatever the need, the restrictions on housing benefit, further limiting of incapacity benefit and the shrinking of access to child benefit. Additionally, there is a new bridgehead further to remove employment protection in the labour market, trading employment rights for shares in the company.

Is any of this fair? The heart of fairness is to establish a proportional relationship between contribution and outcome to which everyone consents. People have made calculations about how they are to handle the costs of old age, bringing up their children, physical incapacity or the lack of work in their area on the basis of social contributions to their circumstance that they reckoned on being an inviolable part of the deal. Now they find it is all turned on its head by fiat and for which no one voted. A social contract is a bargain over time. I pay my taxes and national insurance contributions. I should get benefits back when I need them.

What is happening is both illegitimate and contemptible and as the proposals are rolled out, more and more people will start to think so as they are affected too. The anti-welfare opinion poll majorities will begin to dissolve.

I was heartened to see Hutton’s analysis, and also his description of the Chancellor as an “economic illiterate” in the following passages:

Is this necessary? Osborne insists it would be a “disaster” to turn back from his target of balancing the budget within five years and social spending must share the burden. He is an economic illiterate. Economics 101′s first principle is that if households, companies and banks are simultaneously saving and building up surpluses, as they are at present, then someone in the system has to have a deficit to compensate, otherwise there is a downward depressive economic vortex. That someone necessarily is the government. Its deficit is the counterpart of surpluses elsewhere. Osborne could and should have used his autumn statement to give the private sector the confidence to invest, to borrow, to innovate and to spend and so run down its vast £700bn cash stockpile. He should have adopted a bold target for the growth of nominal income, launched a multi-billion pound infrastructure programme and cheap loan guarantee scheme. Then the pressure on the government’s own books would have been relieved.

He did none of these, instead believing that financial repression and shameful withdrawal of benefits are the triggers of recovery.

Also noteworthy was an analysis in Friday’s Guardian by Shuvo Loha, “the managing director of a recruitment firm focused on the banking, engineering and energy and climate change sectors,” and a social activist, who has written a report for Compass entitled, “Strikers, Scroungers and Shirkers.” Asking, “who are the real shirkers and scroungers?” he pointed out:

Big business is guilty of scrounging from the public purse on a monumental scale – often hidden behind a whole political economy rather than some drawn curtains. The billions of pounds in working tax credits paid out every year are not going to the unemployed but to workers to supplement their low income. It is making up the difference between low wages and the minimum necessary amount for families to live on — a living wage. As 29% of low-paid workers work in retail, this sector in particular is coming under intense scrutiny. A report by the Fair Pay Network found that despite collectively making billions of pounds worth of profits and paying their CEOs millions of pounds a year, none of the top four supermarkets were paying their workers a living wage. They could easily do this and still make huge profits at the same time. So why should they be able to scrounge off the rest of us?

More scrounging exists in the housing market but not necessarily where you might expect it. One in five households in the UK rely on housing benefit to put a roof over their heads. Out of these households 87% are low and middle-income families and pensioners — the so-called strivers that the government pretends to support.

Why is it that working people need housing benefit? It’s the same story: the cost of living is not in line with income. The market has failed. Successive governments have tried to correct this failure by moving from an emphasis on building houses that can be rented cheaply to paying landlords directly to cover tenants’ rents. But as 32% of housing benefit claimants rent in the private sector, this means the hard-working striving taxpayer is paying their tax directly into the pockets of private landlords enabling them to expand their property portfolios. Last year this cost the taxpayer nearly £10bn.

This week we’ve also seen the farce of Starbucks offering to voluntarily cough up £10m in tax. Tax laws are clearly not working. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Big business and rich individuals are shirking their responsibility to society on a monumental scale. According to Tax Research UK, the amount of tax that the government is owed is about £120bn more than the amount that is actually paid. To get a sense of the proportions, that is the equivalent to the entire health budget.

Loha concluded by stating that solving these problems “will require many specific measures,” but what leapt out at me in particular was his final line: “if the government focused its efforts on those higher up the value chain by ending the scrounging and skiving of those at the top, the economic outlook for the UK would be much brighter and the government’s planned £123bn worth of ‘fiscal consolidation’ could be rendered obsolete.”

Last thoughts on tax avoidance

That, after a weekend in which Starbucks were targeted by UK Uncut, is something everyone needs to focus on, and not just in relation to the tax-avoiding coffee chain.  Last week, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee issued a timely report on tax avoidance by multinational companies, and chairwoman Margaret Hodge said HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) needed to be “more aggressive and assertive in confronting corporate tax avoidance.”

Starbucks, who had sales of £400m in the UK last year, paid no corporation tax at all last year. As the BBC explained, Starbucks “transferred some money to a Dutch sister company in royalty payments, bought coffee beans from Switzerland and paid high interest rates to borrow from other parts of the business.” However, they are by no means the only criminals shirking their responsibilities to pay tax, as reports also indicated that Google and Amazon are not much better. Amazon’s UK sales last year were £3.35bn, but the company only reported a “tax expense” of £1.8m, and Google UK had a turnover of £395m but paid just £6m to the Treasury.

Can we take on these giants, or do we hope that politicians will act? I’l be interested to hear your responses. I don’t use Amazon, but I have spent many years publicising the fact that they sell my books. Google, on the other hand, is pretty central to my life. Should I pull the plug?

These questions are not meant to detract from the necessity of campaigning against this revolting government for its latest proposals to cut welfare, but it is certainly true that those responsible for our economic woes are not just in the cabinet, although the stench emanating from George Osborne, David Cameron and their colleagues is hugely poisonous to society as a whole.

So while I will continue to illustrate the horrors of this Tory-led government, I will also be looking for ways to be involved in measures aimed at highlighting the profoundly damaging crime of corporate tax avoidance. First of all, though, George Osborne needs to be stopped from indulging in a further display of cruelty towards those who can least afford it.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

17 Responses

  1. Tom says...

    Of course Osborne would try to spin this by appealing to the “all people on benefits are(fill in the blank)” stereotype.

    Another aspect of this is that not all but many just won’t admit that the homeless are there. I’ve been homeless twice. I’ve had to struggle with where is my next meal coming from? Will I have to sleep on the street tonight? I’ve seen people trying to sleep in an alley in the middle of the night when its freezing, rainy and windy. I’ve seen sections of train stations where one minute there are literally 100 people camped there. Six hours later, everything and everyone is gone. Think of a crowded section of London at a busy time of day. If there’s a homeless person there (thru no fault of their own), not all but many just look away.

    Do you have any idea what it feels like to have others have the attitude of you literally don’t exist? I do.

    The reason the national debt will never go away? Profit for a wide range of people (everyone from vulture hedge funds to the IMF and others). Cameron knows it and so does Osborne.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your perspective on homelessness, Tom. A good friend of mine works for the homeless here in the UK, so I have had many horror stories from her about how homeless people are abused here in the UK, particularly by councils, the police and other parts of the establishment. The plight of the homeless is one that most people don’t want to know about, sadly.
    My friend’s project, btw, is here: http://www.thepavement.org.uk/

  3. damo says...

    when has osbourne ,cameron ,jhonson,ever done a fucking hard days work,never,never,never the soft torie shitrags there not capable of doing any real work 2 hours in the lame fucks would be crying for mummy,its just so vile and nasty trying to turn peole against the unemployed the sick the homeless ive been all 3 of those and it aint no fun ill tell you..these torie cunts have lived a life of luxury and priverledge theyve wanted for nothing gone without nothing been spoiled and indulged there entire live ..so when those useless sexless fuckends come out with that shit ..who are they talking about wot themselves cause theve never done any work ,the useless halfwit inadaqate cockless lame fucks ..of with there heads immediately….i hope we rediscover our ball in this country and it ends realy badly for those fucks,…dxxxx

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent, Damo. A brilliant diatribe – and your point about the suffering of those who are unemployed, sick and homeless is very important!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Martin A Gugino wrote:

    What does it say when “the richest countries” are willing to have the poorest in them starve?

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Osbourne wrote:

    Thought you might find this post interesting Andy: Thanks to Paula Peters who has given permission to repost her following report on the demise of the NHS happening in London.

    “I had the campaign meeting for the NHS all the London campaigns got together…..I dont know, it doesn’t look very hopeful in this moment in time. Have to be honest, we are running out of time, the constitutions on all the clinical commissioning groups have now been voted in the UK, the clincical commissioning groups are the groups that a GP will be paid £50 per patient to keep you away from hospital and stop you having treatment there. Make no mistake about this. This is true and was confirmed by a GP from Welling in Kent. I spoke to him tonight. He cares about his patients, he is the only one who has not signed the constitution to the CCGS he has been threatened to sign or his career is over, if any GP tried to talk out, they are gagged. I had three confirmations on this, one from the Ealing NHS campaign one from the Lewisham campaign and one from the Whittington campaign, I am not making this up it is the truth. The GPs will not be offering as many appointments as they used to, not that we can get them now. The NHS is being broken into bits, the MPs confirmed this as well, we are watching the NHS pulled apart, and many still do not see this. This is all true and has been confirmed by sources, the CCGS are there to administer the cuts, my local hospital confirmed for closure, and more to come in my area, the services we will lose, we are a few months away from the CCGS, so much of treatment will be at home, I cant stress to you enough what we are losing, how many people tonight at that meeting were fearful for the future of the NHS, even the Royal College of Nursing was there……sad sad times and worrying…its not just about the hospitals but primary care as well, this post comes from Angela. Thank you

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Martin and Richard, and everyone who has liked and shared this.
    Martin, it says that we are fully entrenched in a new era of callous, myopic selfishness and hate, in which those whose only interests in life are greed and making other people suffer (the powerful psychopaths and sociopaths who have a huge amount of power and influence) drag us all back to the dark ages.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    And thanks for that account, Richard. The justification for reducing hospital admissions is that it will be replaced by more focused community-based care, but that’s just a fantasy. The alarming thing is that, after attending a meeting with the would-be butchers of Lewisham Hospital last week, they seemed genuinely to have convinced themselves that their solutions would result in better care. It seemed to me that, because they had accepted without question that huge cuts had to be made, they had then moved on to a fantasy scenario in which everything would be OK because, although services would be severely reduced, standards would improve. The fact that this doesn’t add up appeared not to register with them, and, as I say, their belief in people being diverted into community-based solutions, rather than going to A&E, was laughably idealistic, as many in the audience pointed out.
    For more on this, see: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2012/12/05/save-lewisham-hospital-photos-of-the-protest-and-sham-consultation-on-december-4-2012/

  9. damo says...

    if one poor sod suffers we all suffer andy i thought society was meant to be about looking out for each other resulting in a society that works for all of us ,the nhs and the welfare state was the reward to the british people for the loss and sacrifices made by the british people during the first and second world war this discracefull immoral sick government and also the previous corrupt labour government ill tell you wot there doing andy there spitting in the faces of all those who died and suffered during the last 2 wars thats wot there doing …cameron ,osbourne,jhonson etal are a discrace to the british and esp there ancesters who were useless cowering idiot toffs but at least they had a bit more social grace and concience than this lot…even thatcher …even thatcher would not have dared touch the nhs …monsters

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Monsters indeed, Damo, and they’ll get away with it while a majority of the more financially solvent British people continue to place their own self-interest and self-preservation above the needs of society as a whole, and while far too many of those who are less fortunate fail to notice what is happening. Across the board, self-gratification and endless diversions provided by the entertainment business and the communications industry are encouraging people to believe that they live in a bubble, while politicians and the media encourage them to regard anyone in an obvious position of weakness – the unemployed, the disabled – as parasites. The latter is most obviously an evil path, to my mind, and I find it hard to disguise my disgust when my fellow citizens adopt the kind of mentality that led to the gas chambers of Nazi Germany.

  11. damo says...

    your absolutly right andy ..but we all form a simbiant circle all of us if we fail they fail we are all linked..i feel we are entering [and others have expressed this feeling also]that we are entering a new dark ages only this time we have iphones,lol..as ive said before it seems society is becomeing greedyer and cruel by the day ..the entertainement industry keeps the fads and the distractions comeing by the hour and the people sit entraced and google eyed at the nonescense while alaround the is chaos and great suffering i mean did you see the panorama last night on the great british houseing crisis a very sad program indeed ,though watching the news it was great to see her madge chastiseing the bankers yes thats right even the queen had a go at the bankers ,lol,lol

  12. damo says...

    tho the windsors were trecherous nazi sympathisers of with there heads,lol,lol morrisey is right,lol,lol

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    I’ve stopped watching TV so I didn’t see the programme, Damo. I’ll try and catch it on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pc1qb/Panorama_Britains_Hidden_Housing_Crisis/
    I noticed that lots of people were talking about it online, lots of ordinary British citizens who hadn’t shown much interest previously, so perhaps the tide is slowly turning.

  14. damo says...

    omg andy the tide so needs to turn this cannot go on otherwise youl see a repeat of america were there are litteraly thousands homeless on the steets entire familys liveing in there cars unbelievable and thats gonna happen here its on its way..i finnaly see wot you mean about the tories and there twisted ideolagy,maybe i was in denial but your right it seems anyone born poor,unemployed,disabled deserves it and deserves nothing..camerons rightwing ideolagy is very simmilar to that of the nazis..but then again most of the english aristocracy were cowardly yellow bellied nazi sympathisers.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. I do hope that, when it comes down to it, the British people remember that what we don’t share with America, despite our fawning fascination with most things American, is that country’s obsession with self-reliance, which the rich use to get the poor to blame themselves for their suffering, as though there was no bigger picture of greed and exploitation.

  16. sue says...

    Hello Andy hope you are well and keep fighting please. The ruling parties at the moment have absolutely no understanding or compasion for the sick disabled or unemployed whatsoever. According to them if you are in any of these positions it is entirely of your own doing and you only have yourself to blame for all your woes. Some of us are born disabled or become disabled or unemployed through no faults of our own. Many would love not to have these problems and to be cured and able to work therefore not needing to claim any benefits at all. A lot of able bodied persons are unemployed also through no faults of their own and already many disabled persons do work succesfully despite all the barriers put against them. Many working people also require top up benefits because their wages are so low. Stop putting the boot in to all these fellow human beings and start to give the true facts and fiqures for once. This will eventually bite them on the bum but l fear that this will be too late for many. This is not the way to cure the economy blaming those who are mostly victims and not in any way to blame for any of this.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sue. Good to hear from you. It’s time for me to write an update on the assault on the disabled and welfare reform in general, which I hope to do this week. I’ve been very busy — partly with the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital, which, of course, is part of the general assault on the poor, the ill, the young, the unemployed and the disabled.
    I agree completely with the points you make. The government is causing misery to millions, driving an as yet unknown number of people into abject poverty, and all because of their own festering cruelty and an ideological obsession with destroying the state provision of services to anybody for anything — except their own salaries and unaccountable expenses, of course! Privatising everything is not only misguided, it’s also a lazy and corrupt path for politicians – they get to wash their hands of actually governing, and then of course they get given consultancies with the companies they’ve enriched at everyone else’s expense.
    The alarming thing is that this is all going to cost more than at present – unless the Tories really do destroy the welfare state entirely, and turn workfare into workhouses, while filling the streets with the homeless. It’s important for people to watch very carefully – and to challenge -attempts to demonise parts of society. It really isn’t alarmist to point out that that’s what the Nazis did.

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